Ortiz, Jr.’s sweet ride aboard Lady Rocket secures second helping of Pumpkin Pie

November 1, 2021

ELMONT, N.Y. – Irad Ortiz, Jr. completed a stakes double by guiding Frank Fletcher Racing Operations and Ten Strike Racing’s Lady Rocket to a prominent score in Sunday’s second division of the $100,000 Pumpkin Pie, a seven-furlong sprint for fillies and mares, at Belmont Park.

Earlier on the card, Ortiz, Jr. guided Truth Hurts to a rail-skimming score in the first division of the Pumpkin Pie for trainer and co-owner Chad Summers.

“They split the race so I got lucky I ended up on the right two horses,” said Ortiz, Jr. with a laugh.

Trained by Brad Cox, the 4-year-old daughter of Tale of the Cat entered from a runner-up effort to Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint contender Bella Sofia in the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom Handicap on September 26 at Belmont.

The graded stakes-placed Always Carina, with Jose Ortiz up, broke alertly and battled gamely on the lead with Lady Rocket through splits of 23.22 seconds and 46.70 over the sloppy and sealed main track.

Lady Rocket edged clear of Always Carina through the turn as Glass Ceiling was angled off the rail late in the turn by Dylan Davis and set her sights on the leader. Lady Rocket, two lengths clear at the stretch call, was kept to task by Ortiz, Jr. and stayed on strong to secure a narrow head score over Glass Ceiling in a final time of 1:24.11.

Lake Avenue, Always Carina, Regal Retort and Easy to Bless rounded out the order of finish. Piedi Bianchi and Don’t Call Me Mary were scratched.

Ortiz, Jr., who was aboard for the Gallant Bloom effort, said his filly fought gamely to secure the win.

“I was just looking at the wire, trying to get there and keep riding hard and straightforward,” Ortiz, Jr. said. “I concentrated on the win, so I just kept riding. She gave me everything she had.”

Dustin Dugas, assistant to Cox, said the plan was to find a prominent trip for the dark bay, who was a gate-to-wire winner of the Pink Ribbon on August 27 at Charles Town.

“Before the race, Brad I and talked about it and we wanted to get her on the bridle and away from there on a good note,” Dugas said. “She broke out of there running. Irad said maybe around the turn, he might have moved a touch early, which ultimately at the end of the race made it a little closer, but she dug in deep and found that class she needed to get to the wire first.”

Bred in Kentucky by La Ciega and Tale of the Cat Syndicate, Lady Rocket banked $55,000 in victory, while improving her record to 10-5-3-1. She returned $5.20 for a $2 win ticket. 

Pumpkin Pie Replay

Live racing returns Friday at Belmont Park with packed 10-race card which includes the $200,000 Ticonderoga for New York-bred fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles on the turf; the $150,000 Tempted for juvenile fillies going a one-turn mile; the $100,000 Awad for juveniles going 1 1/16 miles on the turf; and the $100,000 Atlantic Beach, a six-furlong turf sprint for 2-year-olds. First post is 12:35 p.m. Eastern.

America’s Day at the Races will present daily coverage and analysis of the fall meet at Belmont Park on the networks of FOX Sports. For the complete broadcast schedule, visit https://www.nyra.com/belmont/racing/tv-schedule.

NYRA Bets is the official wagering platform of Belmont Park, and the best way to bet every race of the fall meet. Available to horseplayers nationwide, the NYRA Bets app is available for download today on iOS and Android at www.NYRABets.com.

For info on the Best Breeders’ Cup Seminar click HERE.

Keith McCalmont/NYRA Press Office

Photo: Lady Rocket, #7 inside. (Chelsea Durand)

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